Train Pigeons.

The other day I read a story about London’s urban foxes and felt cheated. I spent a lot of time in London—although not nearly enough, which is oddly reassuring because as Samuel Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London he is tired of life,” but that’s another story. In all the time I spent in London—in all the time I spent in Britain, in fact—I never once saw a fox.

I did, however, see a lot of pigeons which, as someone who watched Mary Poppins about a dozen times before the age of eight and is still not tired of it because when you’re tired of Mary Poppins you’re tired of life, tickled me. I even bought the little cups of seed to feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. I don’t know if this has changed but at the time the seed came in little plastic cups that you then returned to the vendor. And I was taking an empty cup back when a pigeon landed on my arm and looked at the cup and looked at me and I swear that bird was on the verge of speech.

And then there was one afternoon when I was standing in an underground station and a train pulled up and a couple of pigeons walked out.

Yes, they walked, and looked around like they were a couple of tourists. I even imagined them having a conversation.

“Are you sure Earl’s Court is where we wanted to get off?”

“I think so, Nigel. Mind the gap!”

Of course they were British pigeons, perhaps visiting London from Oldham or Kent. The idea of American pigeons in London would just be ridiculous.

I swear this really happened but the story has been a point of some contention between me and my wife because she doesn’t believe me. Even though other people have said they’ve seen the same thing—pigeons walking off trains—she doesn’t believe me. Why would I make up a story like that?

Admittedly I have been known to feather my stories with exaggerations, embellishments, and outright fabrications, but if I were going to make up a story like that it would have been more elaborate. At the very least they would have actually spoken.

And been American.

 

 

10 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    I believe you, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That means a lot. I understand why my wife has a hard time believing that I, or anyone else, has seen pigeons walking off trains, but all I want is to be believed.

      Reply
  2. Allison

    I grew up in Atlanta. There’s this restaurant there near the Georgia Tech campus called The Varsity. It’s burgers, hot dogs and so on. They have a huge drive in area, and when food gets dropped, the local pigeons are there ready to handle it. One of my favorite sights was the time I saw a pigeon with an onion ring around its neck. I assume he got it off at some point. But that must have been some toss to hit a live pigeon.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s amazing and hilarious and also raises serious questions. Did that pigeon get that onion ring off himself? I like to think he did and said, “Whoa, score!” Or maybe some other pigeon came up and grabbed it and the first pigeon just sat there thinking, hey, I had a whole meal around my neck and didn’t even know it. There is no middle ground here. Either that onion ringed pigeon had the greatest day of his life or the worst.

      Reply
  3. mydangblog

    I believe it. In Toronto, the pigeons are everywhere, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see one on the subway!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It could happen. I should have been clearer that this was a ground-level train platform, not the Underground. But I’m sure pigeons do sometimes get into the Underground, lured in by people carrying food.

      Reply
  4. Arionis

    Did you do the voices in squeaking pigeon pitch when you told her the story? That might have convinced her.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s my mistake! I didn’t make squeaking pigeon voices when I told her that story. Actually I didn’t do pigeon voices at all. That does add some veracity to the anecdote.

      Reply
  5. Jay

    This is such a slice.
    #teampigeon

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yeah, I could go for a slice of pigeon myself right about now.

      Reply

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